Sunday, April 02, 2006

What should we do with vacant lots?

One of the main contenders for the space is the urban gardens movement. But do gardens add value to their communities? An empirical legal paper finds that they do, although the value drops off sharply as a function of distance away from the garden, and even decreases slowly in time. Interestingly, gardens help the most disadvantaged neighborhoods the most. Vicki Been has posted "The effect of community gardens on neighborhood property values" to ssrn. A good review of the article is at the Empirical Legal Studies blog. I'm unclear, still, as to whether gardens are the best use of vacant lots. It also seems likely that the benefits will be quite sensitive to the garden design and pleasantness; Rainbow Garden, at Edgewood and Howe in New Haven, is a bit of a failure on that score, sadly, though I try to like the mini-park on its own terms...

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